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Media Analyses





Reuters' Selective Lens Demonizes Israel on 61st Independence Day


If a picture is worth a thousand words, the nine Reuters photographs marking Israel's 61st Independence Day send a much more concise message: according to Jews and Arabs living within Israel's borders, Israel should not exist. All those Israelis who think otherwise are war-mongers raising their children to be war-mongers.

Israelis traditionally mark Independence Day by swarming to the national parks, beaches and street festivities. Barbeques are a favorite activity enjoyed on the nation's birth day, as noted this weekend by Sayed Kashua, an Israeli Arab writer for Ha'aretz.

Ha'aretz described the day's festivities like this:

The celebrations began on Tuesday on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, as the flags lowered to half-mast for Memorial Day were raised again, and the ceremonial torches were lit.

This year, festivities centered around the theme of Tel Aviv's centennial. Among Tuesday's torch-bearers were Tel Aviv's iconic former mayor Shlomo ("Chich") Lahat, and the son of Israeli painter, sculptor and author Nahum Gutman, in whose art the city was frequently featured.

In Tel Aviv itself, police had to cordon off the popular Florentin neighborhood, as the number of street-party revelers exceeded the anticipated 5,000. In Givatayim, both religious and secular Jews marked the occasion at the city's Wohelin square. "We are celebrating with [kidnapped Israeli soldier] Gilad Shalit in our hearts," said one local resident, Maya Hirsch, 40. "Independence is not something you take for granted."  . . . .

Yesterday, spectators on promenades in Israel's coastal cities observed a parade of the Israeli Navy, and a fly-by performed by the Air Force. The military aircrafts were joined, for the very first time, by civilian ones - as four El-Al airplanes saluted Tel Aviv. The lead plane, a Boeing 747-400, named "Tel Aviv," was accompanied by a Boeing 777 named "Sderot," a 767 named "Mishmar Haemek," and a 737 named "Kinneret."

But Reuters photographers, dispatched across the country, did not capture any of these highlights -- no images of Tel Aviv revelers marking 100 years of their city as well as 61 years since the founding of the state of Israel, no sign of the packed beaches, no pictures of the family outings to parks, and no photos of official ceremonies.
 
Instead, the intrepid Reuters photographers sought out two relatively out of the way venues in which they were bound to find angry Jews and Arabs opposed to a Jewish state. The break-down of Reuters nine Independence Day photos follow. (Photos appear with their original Reuters captions.)
 
Jews Against the State of Israel (2)
 
Members of Neturei Karta, a fringe Jewish Ultra-Orthodox movement within the anti-Zionist bloc,
holds a sign during a demonstration against the State of Israel during Israeli Independence Day
in Bet Shamesh April 29, 2009. REUTERS/Mahfouz Abu Turk
 
Members of Neturei Karta, a fringe Jewish Ultra-Orthodox movement
within the anti-Zionist bloc, burn the Israeli flag during a demonstration against
the State of Israel during Israeli Independence Day in Bet Shamesh
 
Israeli Arabs Against the State of Israel (2)
 
Arab-Israelis march during a demonstration in Kefreen North near Hifa to commemorate Nakba Day,
when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled or fled from their homes in the war
that led to the founding of Israel, April 29, 2009. REUTERS/Ammar Awad
 
Arab-Israelis march during a demonstration in Kefreen North near Hifa to commemorate Nakba Day,
when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled or fled from their homes in the war
that led to the founding of Israel, April 29, 2009. REUTERS/Ammar Awad
 

Israelis As War-Mongers (3)

While Reuters photographers did manage to find representatives of the minute fraction of Israel's population belonging to the fringe Neturai Karta movement, they had more difficulty locating any of the millions of normal Israeli civilians happy to live in a sovereign Jewish state. Unless, of course, those Israelis were decked out in military gear and appeared to be imbuing their young admirers with a lust for war. Thus, Reuters' three photographs of Zionist Israelis on Independence Day are:

 
A boy holds an assault rifle during a military exhibition near Ammunition Hill
memorial on Independence Day in Jerusalem
 
A boy holds an assault rifle as an Israeli soldier looks on during a military exhibition
near Ammunition Hill memorial on Independence Day in Jerusalem April 29, 2009. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
 
An Israeli soldier paints camouflage on a child during a military exhibition near
Ammunition Hill memorial on Independence Day in Jerusalem April 29, 2009. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
 
Generic Fireworks Over Jerusalem (2)
 
And, as far as Israeli citizens celebrating their independence day, there's nothing more to show, Reuters apparently believes. The remaining two images don't include people at all -- they are fireworks over Jerusalem, with the Muslim Dome of the Rock in the foreground.
 
The Dome of the Rock is seen in Jerusalem's Old City as fireworks
explode during celebrations for Israel's Independence Day April 28, 2009.
REUTERS/Darren Whiteside

The second photograph of the Dome of the Rock and fireworks is nearly identical to the first.

 
Precedent for an Editor's Note
 
Reuters should send out an editor's note to its subscribers around the world apologizing for the misleading depiction of Israel's independence day. There is a precedent for such a step. When the New York Times gave more prominent visibility to a few hundred anti-Israel protestors than to the hundreds of thousands of Israel supporters at a 2002 rally, the paper of record ran the following editor's note:
 

Editor's Note (5/7/02): An article yesterday about a parade in Manhattan marking Israel’s 54th anniversary reported that 100,000 people had registered to march and hundreds of thousands more lined Fifth Avenue in support. The article also said that anti-Israel protesters numbered in the hundreds. A front-page photograph, however, showed the parade in the background, with anti-Israel protesters prominent in the foreground, holding a placard that read, "End Israeli Occupation of Palestine." Inside the newspaper, a photo of a pro-Israel marcher was juxtaposed with a picture of protesters, one waving a sign that likened Zionism to Nazism. Although the editors’ intent in each case was to note the presence of opposing sides, the effect was disproportionate. In fairness the total picture presentation should have better reflected The Times’s reporting on the scope of the event, including the disparity in the turnouts.

What Reuters Missed
 
The competing photo news service, Associated Press, ran a variety of photographs marking Israel's Independence Day. While AP did provide images of Neturai Karta Jews opposed to the Jewish state, and photos of Israelis visiting military bases and climbing on army hardware (some bases open their gates to the public on Independence Day and attract big crowds), the service captured the major festivities. AP photographers even managed to make it to Tel Aviv, Israel's largest metropolis and the center of this year's celebrations. Here is a sampling of the kinds of AP images that Reuters failed to photograph:
 
Israelis watch aircrafts during an air force flyover as part of Independence Day celebrations
on the beach in Tel Aviv, Wednesday, April 29, 2009. Israelis are celebrating Independence Day,
marking the 61st anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel. (AP Photo/Shelly Paz)
 
A tourist with sun block shaped as the Star of David lies on the beach during Independence Day
celebrations in Tel Aviv, Wednesday, April 29, 2009. Israelis are celebrating Independenc Day,
marking the 61st anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
 
An ultra-orthodox Israeli blows a shofar horn as he takes part in celebrations marking
the 61st Independence Day in Tel Aviv, Israel, late Tuesday, April 28, 2009. Israelis are marking
61 years since the founding of the state in 1948. (AP Photo/Moti Milrod)
 
A woman covered with the Israeli flag looks on as fireworks are seen during the 61st Independence Day celebrations at Rabin square in Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, April 28, 2009. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
 
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, raises a glass with President Shimon Peres, left,
and Defense Minister Ehud Barak as they toast during the annual Independence Day event at the
President's residence in Jerusalem, Wednesday, April 29, 2009. Israelis are celebratingIndependence Day, marking the 61st anniversary of the creation of the state. (AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill)
 
People dance as they hold an Israeli flag, during the 61st Independence Day celebration at Rabin square in Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday April 28, 2009. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
 
Jewish youth from Paraguay, pose for a photo, in front the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site in Jerusalem, Wednesday, April 29, 2009 after participating in the ''March of the living". Israelis are celebrating Independence Day, marking the 61st anniversary of the creation of the state. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
 
In conclusion, AP's varied images of Israelis marking Independence Day clearly demonstrate that there are plenty of Zionists still in Israel, including in Tel Aviv, and they have no trouble celebrating their sovereignty, even without donning war paint.
 
For earlier CAMERA articles on Reuters photo bias, click here.

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